That's a weak system. Given the complexity of Internet and cable service, establishing that an action is discriminatory is an incredibly time-consuming and costly process. That's why the incumbent almost always gets its way and why "conditions" imposed by regulators seldom present real obstacles to underhanded behavior.
The only effective way to combat this discrimination is to keep it from happening in the first place. The drawbacks of allowing content producers to own their distribution networks were recognized in this country as long ago as the 1940s, when the government forced the Hollywood film studios to sell off their theater chains. Back then, the Supreme Court found that the evidence that the studios had fixed ticket prices and engaged in other anti-competitive behavior was "incontestable."
We've forgotten a lot since the court's 1948 ruling in U.S. v. Paramount 334 U. S. 131 (1948) . Or maybe we've just gotten more gullible when monopolistic corporations claim they need to be bigger to serve us better.
Or maybe the regulators have just given up. As Comcast-NBC goes, so goes the nation. Brace yourselves; your pockets are destined to get picked by fewer, but bigger, media monsters.
Michael Hiltzik's column appears Sundays and Wednesdays in the Los Angeles Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, read past columns at latimes.com/hiltzik, check out facebook.com/hiltzik and follow @latimeshiltzik on Twitter.